The target landscape selected for COMDEKS activities in Nepal is an area comprising 10 contiguous Village Development Committees: Handikhola, Bharta, Raksirang, Kankada, Dandakharka, Khairang, Kalikatar, Namtar, Manahari and Sarikhet, of the north-west Makawanpur district, central Nepal. The landscape is a watershed section of the Manahari River, which drains into the Rapti River. The geological and climatic conditions in these watershed areas have resulted in the extremes of landslides, flooding and wild fires, among others. As a result the target area has being recognized as one of Nepal’s most hazard prone zones.
The total land area of the landscape is 78,900 ha, only 8% are cultivated and nearly half the area is covered by forest. Although the topography and geology of the target landscape is fragile and prone to landslide and flooding, land use practices in the region are also equally to blame. Slash and burn agriculture practiced by the indigenous Chepangs and Tamangs in increasingly shorter fallow period on the steep slopes of the areas is associated with deforestation, loss of biodiversity, threat of forest fires, emissions of greenhouse gases, and serious soil erosion, leading to a significant decline in land productivity. Other practices such as plantation of maize in steep outward terrace has also led to significant loss of topsoil thus increasing surface run off. The consequent alluvial deposits in the river valleys have triggered the rise of riverbeds threatening the very existence of the near-by settlements.
The target landscape area is inhabited by over 13,378 households with 77,812 people, 52% are indigenous Tamangs and 17% are Chepangs, which are regarded as the most marginalized and resource poor groups in Nepal. Several poverty “hot spots” have been identified where the livelihoods of local populations are threatened by very low food security levels, education, and access to basic services, which are compounded by landscape degradation associated with deforestation. The main concern regarding the Khoriyakheti (slash and burn agriculture) practiced in traditional farming systems is the inequitable land tenure arrangements and limited access to other natural resources. Their access to lands and forests traditionally used or occupied by them has diminished drastically over time, with exclusionary policies on land, forest, and nature conservation further impacting food security and unsustainable land degradation.
Preworkshop at Daman Makawanpur
The baseline assessment was carried out in all 10 selected Village Development Committees (VDC s) . The assessment included a rigorous pre-workshop to define the SEPL indicators to 32 key stakeholders from the government, NGOs, the media and community members of selected VDCs. A study-team of experts including agro-forestry and GIS professionals, engineers and rural officers was formed with the mandate to carry out the field surveys and workshops exercise in each of the 10 selected VDCs. Twenty randomly selected community members were invited to participate in the socio-ecological production landscape and seascapes indicators (SEPLS) at each VDC-level workshop, to help measure and understand the resilience of the target landscape. The SEPLS scorecard results were consolidated into a VDC- level radar diagrams and additional gender based radar diagrams were completed. The results of the SEPLS indicators as well as field analysis revealed that the main concerns were the recurrent floods and landslides affecting the target landscape, the effects of slash and burn agriculture and the resulting deforestation, the loss of agricultural biodiversity and the sharp decline in agriculture productivity of cereals and vegetables, perhaps due to global climate change which begin to manifest clearly in terms of increasing mean minimum temperatures and decreasing rainfall trends.
The overall long-term objective of the COMDEKS Landscape Strategy is to enhance socio-ecological production landscape resilience through community-based activities. The COMDEKS Country program in Nepal seeks to achieve the following outcomes:
a) Buffer capacity of key ecosystems against extreme weather events enhanced in 10 VDCs of west Makawanpur.
b) Maintain and protect agricultural biodiversity and genetic resources in the target landscape through conservation and diversification in farming practices.
c) Enhance communities’ livelihoods through community development activities and land-use diversification.
d) Support community-based institutional governance structures for effective participatory decision making and local knowledge exchange at the landscape level.
The COMDEKS project seeks to bring about community development, learning, and knowledge sharing by making available small grants to community organizations to help them maintain and manage more resilient socio-ecological production landscapes. The types of community projects that will be supported by COMDEKS Nepal to achieve socio-ecological production landscape resilience include: community seed banks to promote local and resistant varieties that are tolerant to pest, diseases, droughts and other extreme environmental threats; Farmer’s Field School to promote integrated pest management practices; innovative water conserving technologies; agricultural and agro forestry systems including alley cropping , silvo-pasture , windbreaks and shelter belts, riparian forest buffers and forest farming technologies in the context of climate change adaptation; alternative energy technologies. More information to come… New! COMDEKS Country Programme Landscape Strategy for Nepal can be downloaded here.
The Community Development and Knowledge Management for the Satoyama Initiative Project (COMDEKS) is a unique global project implemented by UNDP, in partnership with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations University, and the Ministry of Environment of Japan as the flagship of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative. Nepal is one of the countries taking part in this global pilot, together with Bhutan, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Malawi, Namibia,, Niger, Slovakia and Turkey.The Community Development and Knowledge Management for the Satoyama Initiative (COMDEKS) Project is a unique global project implemented by UNDP as the flagship of the International Partnership for the Satoyama Initiative (IPSI). An area compromised of 10 villages of the north-west Makawanpur district in central Nepal has been selected as the target landscape forCOMDEKS activities in Nepal. The landscape, which is a watershed section of the Manahari river, is threatened by extreme environmental challenges, including landslides, flooding, and wildfires
With the support from the Manahari Development Institute, a landscape-wide baseline assessment mobilized experts, local leaders, and community members to collectively formulate goals and desired outcomes for COMDEKS involvement in Nepal, shaping the criteria for project selection
On June 20, 2012, stakeholders, including representatives from the District Development Committee, heads of district line agencies, local political leaders, journalists, and farmers, held a workshop in Daman, Nepal to initially establish boundaries of the landscape
Baseline assessment workshops were carried out in all 10 selected Village Development Committees (VDCs), involving community representatives in assessing the status of the landscape by piloting the Indicators for Resilience in Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes (SEPLS).
Twenty randomly selected community members were invited to participate in the socio-ecological production landscape and seascapes indicators (SEPLS) exercise at each VDC-level workshop, to help measure and understand the resilience of the target landscape.
The key results of the SEPLS survey indicated that the main concerns in the community were recurrent floods and landslides, the deforestation and adverse environmental effects of slash and burn agriculture, the loss of agricultural biodiversity and the sharp decline in agriculture productivity in cereals and vegetables. These concerns shaped the COMDEKS strategy in Nepal, which is a community based approach to maintaining, restoring, and revitalizing sustainable socio-ecological production in the selected landscape
Since the development of the COMDEKS Nepal Landscape Strategy based on the community SEPLS survey results, relevant projects have begun in the landscape. One of the challenges of the target landscape in Nepal is the prevalence of illegal hemp cultivation. As part of COMDEKS activities in the region, there is a project which supports government efforts to ban hemp cultivation, focusing instead on the promotion of alternative livelihoods such as organic vegetable, turmeric, and ginger farming, as well as agroforestry.
Another problem identified in the landscape strategy in Nepal involves the conservation of indigenous fish species, which are facing rapid decline due to the use of unsustainable fishing practices such as electrocution and the use of poison along the rivers of the Rapti and the Manahari.
To combat unsustainable fishing practices, COMDEKS supports projects aimed at promoting Carp-SIS polyculture, which involves an integrated farming of carp and SIS (small indigenous species).
Riverbank conservation is also part of the focus of COMDEKS activities aimed at enhancing ecological landscape resilience through community based activities in Nepal.
The river banks are rich in alluvial deposits and moisture, which enables community members to sustainably farm some crops such as watermelons and peanuts in the area.
In the local plain land, within the region that makes up the target landscape, projects are focused on the promotion of organic farming practices.
Projects have supported community farmers to sustainably grow cauliflower, beans and cucumbers.
To address challenges of agricultural production on extremely sloped land, projects have promoted the use of SALT technology. SALT, Sloping Agriculture Land Technology, helps minimize soil erosion in hilly agricultural areas. A number of SALT methods exist, including alley cropping systems, silvopasture (the combination of forests and livestock grazing), windbreak and shelterbelt plantings, riparian forest buffers, and forest farming systems. The SALT system helps restore soil structure and fertility, thereby improving food production success.
The preferred crops grown using the SALT technology are bananas, pineapples, and broomgrass, much of which is then sold in Manahari, a local market center.
Due to their beneficial impact on efforts of soil conservation, growing banana and broomgrass on sloped surfaces has been particularly successful. According to Mr. Raj Kumar Praja, a local community member and trader, the annual sale of bananas and broomgrass was $20,000 respectively.
Turmeric and ginger farming has also increased with the implementation of COMDEKS projects in Nepal.
Mr. Raj Kumar Praja, local trader (shown above): “I am from indigenous Chepang community. I have started my trading business facing all the hardships. For the cause developing the status of my fellow Chepang and Tamang colleagues, I am buying any goods they bought from the village such as banana, broomgrass and other product and give them cash.”
Mrs. Putali Maya Praja (shown above): “The lifestyle of Rabang village is changing. Earlier we used to go to market to buy food. But now we carry banana, broom grass or local chicken to sell in the market. With the money, we buy rice, cloth, slippers, books and stationery for children.”
Mr. Bhuban Karki, NSC member, Operation Foal Point, Ministry of Finance, Foreign Aid Coordination Division (shown above, grey sweater): “I am very inspired by the progress in the Handikhola and Rabang. With so little money, so much of work. The initiative is able to adapt local farming technology of local banana farming and broom grass plantation and locals are earning income.” Successful COMDEKS projects will be used as models for replication and upscaling in other parts of the world. Knowledge products, such as case studies and video documentarie, will help disseminate learning.
Mr. Gopal Sherchan
Phone:+ (977-1) 500 0119/ 5523 200/ 552 3986
Fax:+ (977-1) 553 0269/ 552 3991/ 552 3986
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Mr. Vivek Sharma
UNDP, P.O. Box 107 , Kathmandu